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Earliest that Steelers DE Smith could return is for Super Bowl

The Pittsburgh Steelers might not have Aaron Smith back this season unless they reach the Super Bowl, a source with knowledge of the situation said Wednesday.

Smith, an elite 3-4 defensive end and one of the key cogs in Pittsburgh's defense, tore his triceps during a Week 7 game at Miami and hasn't played since.

The Steelers knew at the time that Smith's injury could have been considered season-ending, but given his importance to the team, they kept a roster spot open for the playoffs and didn't place him on injured reserve. He is virtually certain not to face the Baltimore Ravens this week and would be doubtful to play in the AFC Championship Game as well, according to the source.

"The Super Bowl would probably be the most realistic timetable," the source said.

The Steelers would have to win two more games to get there, and then would have the pre-Super Bowl bye week as well.

Smith resumed weightlifting weeks ago, but he has only been able to practice thus far on an extremely limited basis.

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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